It's been a tough few months for me, what with people leaving notes on my front door and sending me nasty messages on Facebook. I started thinking about how to protect myself and - more importantly - my son, and then a friend made a brilliant suggestion: Learning to shoot.
I've always been a little leery of guns. I don't know anything about them and they can kill you easily, so I had a healthy respect for them, much like a swimmer in the ocean does for things like sharks and jellyfish. I decided I would learn to shoot - and shoot well - then decide if I wanted to arm myself so that I could protect myself and my child from anyone who thought it might be a wise idea to go lurking through my house. Or on my front porch at 2 a.m. The super awesome Captain Craig Treadwell from the Covington Police Department volunteered to help me learn. So while I was still nervous, I knew I was in good hands when I showed up at Shots Fired range on Washington Street.
I expected some grimy hole-in-the-wall shop, with lots of people wearing camouflage sitting around mean-mugging girls in cardigans and ballet flats who would dare to venture into their domain. I could not have been more wrong. The store is clean and bright, the staff is welcoming and helpful - everything was wonderful. So after I signed a paper saying I wouldn't blame them if I shot myself in the foot, it was time to check out my guns.
I received a training in the proper way to hold a gun, how to stand, how to aim - all the need-to-know info before I ever stepped onto the range in my stylish glasses and giant earmuffs. Apparently, although amusing, it is not wise to shoot sideways like a gangsta. There goes my imagined street cred.
I hate being bad at things and I was pretty sure shooting was going to be one of those things I was poor at, like bowling and making pancakes. I was literally shaking as I tried to remember the proper grip for the .22 semi-automatic that was staring at me, looking ominous. Lines like "You'll shoot your eye out!" kept ringing through my head, along with the promise I made my son, that I would not shoot myself or anyone else, not even on accident.
But then I shot. And hit the shoulder three times. My competitive spirit kicked on and told my fear to shut up. So I braced my knees, dropped my waist and turned into Annie Oakley. I shot the head, the throat, the heart. My fear was replaced by adrenaline, my aggression that I'd had built up over someone coming to my door - to the place where my child sleeps, began to dissipate and I was good. Not only was I good, I was enjoying myself. My two hours flew by, and by the end I was loading my own bullets and had tried a different .22, one I didn't care for. I liked my semi-automatic.
I proudly displayed my target at work. I could tell people were impressed by my obviously ingrained ability to shoot, some even terrified, like our sports editor Bryan who asked to switch his desk away from mine.
I might have missed a couple shots, but those bullets would stop someone who was threatening my safety and the safety of my little boy. I might have had two casings bounce back into my shirt, giving me a couple bullet-shaped burns. But that's no price to pay for a little peace of mind. And since I can rent a gun at Shots Fired, I have plenty of time to get even better at my shooting and find the right fit for me.
If you want to hang out with me at my new favorite spot, they are located at 8175 Washington Street and are open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. The rates are cheap, the staff is great and they have classes you can take so you can learn to shoot like a pro. You know, like me. Visit them at shotsfiredrange.com.